The Random Griffith

Yep, that’s disgusting, but what the hey

Posted in bugs are cool by Jackson Griffith on 30/09/2010

Occasionally I stumble across some weird stuff, like this article about how mashed-up cockroach brains kill E. coli bacteria, which of course is great news for the troubled fast-food industry. I have to admit that I became greatly excited when I read this piece of news, because as a forward-thinking person, I could see some pretty cool applications for the business world.

Now, let’s just say that it’s reasonably academic that right now, as you read this, scientists at some of our better chemical and convenience-food conglomerates are busy isolating whatever molecular construct in the cockroach brain that’s vanquishing E. coli and other germs, and is synthesizing it so they’re not dependent upon a bunch of bugs for a steady supply. Kind of like the music business when they figured out that polyvinyl chloride would do just as good a job as shellac, but more specific.

Of course, some of the fast-food companies are going to say, “Y’know, why should we pay good money to Dow or DuPont or BASF when we can hire some kids to catch the roaches that already are infesting our kitchens, and then just dump them directly into the grinder with the hamburger meat?” Hey, makes perfect sense to me. You get rid of your roach problem, and you’ve also got a high-protein meat extender that saves the company money on expensive beef products. And not only that; the free-range roaches have to be hardier and more germ resistant than the more germane bugs that researchers are growing in controlled laboratory settings. Or, one might think.

But then there’s the law of unintended consequences, or at least unintended weirdness, to think about. For example, people eating certain hamburgers who all of a sudden get an uncontrollable urge to go crawling through Dumpsters, or maybe they start pulling random manhole covers off and climbing in, just to see “what’s down there.” Or people start sprouting weird antennae from the space above their eyebrows or, even better, unwanted new cerci begin growing from their gluteus maximus muscles — which is a nice way to say they’ll be dealing with tentacles protruding from their butt cheeks.

Disclosure: I’m a vegetarian, so I’m not too worried. And you? —Jackson Griffith

My personal Mercury must be retrograde

Posted in embarrassing confessionals, gosh darn it by Jackson Griffith on 29/09/2010

Screw it. This past week has sucked monkey balls when it comes to trying to blog. Weird problems left and right. Can’t figure it out. Looked at my horoscope and at the ephemeris, and Mercury isn’t retrograde, and my natal Merc isn’t squared or opposed or quincunxed or sesquiquadrated or whatever, so I have no idea what’s going on.

All I do know is that during the day I work, so that’s out for writing this thing. That leaves early morning or evening. And I recently moved, and haven’t gotten my merde together to get a wi-fi connexion going at home, so that leaves coffeehouses. My favorite for food and ambiance and nice people working there is Weatherstone, and it’s the closest to me, too. But the web connect there has been squinky for days. Same goes for Temple on S, and this weekend when I was washing clothes at the laundro on P, the wi-fi wasn’t happening there, either. So here I am at Naked on Q, and maybe I’ll stop in and work on the many longer posts I have in my head but don’t have time to lay down right now. I must say, though, that the ’70s music here chews the big one. Oh. Fugg. I forgot how much I hate Billy Joel.

Ah, complaints, complaints. I’m grumpy. Food, then bed. Call me if you like. —Jackson Griffith

Sorry, again

Posted in apology for not posting for a while, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 26/09/2010

Yeah, I haven’t posted much lately. I had plans to write a nice big long post today, but intermittent internet service, first at the neighborhood coffee joint and now at the laundromat, are keeping me from that goal. So, well, screw it. Gonna have to find other things to do.

I’m hoping to post this nice long rant I’ve been working on, but the way things have been going lately, that’s going to be a no-go. Sorry. Some days, you just can’t fight the tide rising against you.

Or something like that. Damn. —Jackson Griffith

I may be no paragon of sanity, but frickin’ A

Posted in wingnuts suck by Jackson Griffith on 23/09/2010

Jeebus reebus kuhneebus, are we living in some crazy times or what? I have to say that I’m glad I don’t own a television, because most likely I would be glomming onto the endless Fox News Channel broadcasts that tout these not-ready-for-prime-time pols 24/7. It took me long enough to break the Jersey Shore jones I’d picked up, to where Snooki and The Situation and the rest of those attention prostitution whore-ahs look too brutally stupid for even a moment’s consideration. Nevertheless, I’d be lapping up the Foxaganda Flavour-Aid like sweet nectar of the devil if I could watch this ongoing train wreck. Heck whiz, I might even believe some of these stoops.

I mean, Christine O’Donnell? Where are they trolling for these nitwits, anyway? PTA meetings in towns where research indicates that the citizens will engage in a punch-up at a trucker hat’s drop over the dumbest little trigger event, like juice boxes in school lunches? If I wanted to go all Alex Jones, I’d say this thing is being orchestrated in some Scottish Rite lodge gone black by a naked Rupert Murdoch, covered head to toe with the methamphetamine-enhanced menstrual blood of Ann Coulter, reciting passages from Albul Alhazred’s Necronomicon while remixes of Insane Clown Posse jams blast in the background and Sean Hannity gets buggered by a Hillerich & Bradsby strap-on wielded by Michelle Malkin with play-by-play delivered by Elmer Fudd.

This is the dumbest group of politicians ever foisted on the American public. Ever. I don’t think that you can go back in American history and find a stupider group of political candidates than the gaggle of geezers and Mordor of assclowns that the Republican Party and the teatard movement is flogging this year, bankrolled of course by Murdoch and those two bonehead brothers from Wichita named Koch who make Dixie cups, Northern bumwipes and Brawny paper towels and other Georgia-Pacific paper products, along with a bunch of other butthurt billionaires whose sphincters crinkle at the prospect of a progressive income tax.

I guess I grew up — he says, gumming out some Methuselah news for you whippersnappers — at a time when Republicans weren’t all wild-eyed and crazy, when guys like the late California Assembly Speaker Bob Monaghan would talk in even tones about how we should try to keep our government’s spending in line with tax revenues, and how we should make sure that business owners get their voices heard because they create and sustain jobs. I mean, my whole family was Republican, except maybe for me and my cousin Peggy, but none of them was brown-acid crazy like today’s GOP. Well, then we elected Reagan as governor at the end of 1966, around the time I was just getting into the Kinks, and then it was all downhill, because Old Dutch Boy Painthead was a front-stooge for the syndicate that’s now dragging us back to the Fourteenth Century. Crazy is as crazy does, I guess.

Once I took some scary vittamins, “Vitamin L,” as we used to call it, and thangs got a little too squinky for comfortable navigation, what with fruitless mulberry limbs reaching down snaking around my arms and trunk like boa constrictors and lifting me off the ground, thistles sprouting and growing miles into the sky in seconds and cars jumping around the street like too many Mexican jumping beans. I went home to be safe, and my room filled up with water, so I panicked and ran outside and hid under a bush, shaking. It was a Saturday night, and my dad’s calm voice lulled me back into the house. He had a huge chrome spike growing out of the top of his head like one of those World War I-era German army helmets, but he convinced me to watch some Japanese monster movie with him on Bob Wilkins’ show. Actually, it was that, followed by one of those creepy Hammer vampire films from England. I was totally fried, and the whole experience licked my decals off for weeks to follow.

Still, that was nowhere near as crazy as what the Republican Tea Party is serving up today. —Jackson Griffith

So, the other night, I went to the ballet

Posted in laundromat posts, local music by Jackson Griffith on 20/09/2010

Okay, so in typical fashion, I realized five minutes before the Ballet + Music gig the other night at the Crest Theatre was set to begin that I was three miles away. I sprinted out of the room full of people where I’d been sitting quietly and raced across town and got in just as DoomBird was beginning its performance. Thank God or whatever deity was watching over me last night that I’d had that sudden realization, because I would have been pissed if I’d missed DoomBird’s performance.

A quick recap: Ballet + Music was put together by Clay Nutting and his Concerts4Charity, and it featured four musical acts, which were set up in the dark to play stage left, while dancers from Pamela Hayes’ company, directed by Zara Hayes, performed to the music on the main stage. The lineup began with DoomBird, then featured Exquisite Corpse, then there was an intermission, then Drifting Shapes, and finally, Sister Crayon. Because I’m not a dance critic, and in fact know virtually nothing about ballet, and because of my late arrival I was forced to take a seat way up at the top of the nosebleed section, where the distance between the stage and me made it possible for the music to take my mind elsewhere for large portions of the performance, I won’t comment much on the visual aspects, except to say that the dancers moved with far more verve and elan than I can muster walking from the couch to the refrigerator, or anywhere else for that matter.

As for the music, DoomBird was brilliant. They did the lovely “Mood Ring,” perhaps my favorite number by them, and a host of others. Suffice it to say that their album, which can be downloaded here, is the best thing I’ve heard this year by anyone. Anyone. Live, I think there’s still a tentative quality, especially in contrast to what followed immediately after, and more performances might build confidence and sharpen their game. But no one else in these parts is delivering this combination of Beach Boys’ Smile sophistication coupled with SoCal Randy Newman-Van Dyke Parks-Harry Nilsson style with a hint of post-Detroit (L.A.) Motown. And with a string section, too. Kris Anaya and Joe Davancens are fricking brilliant, and this isn’t the first time I’ve said that.

Next up was Exquisite Corpse, which I think were the crowd’s favorite, or they got the most spirited audience response. I don’t want to say anything bitchy, like Journey’s Steve Perry always got the crowd rooting, too, but I guess I just did. Okay, here’s the deal: Singer Bryan Valenzuela has one of those male voices some of us lesser singers might kill for. But it isn’t just the voice, it’s what you do with it. After a couple of songs that alternated between Bono-esque banshee wails and the sort of Thom Yorke mewls over abraded-sphincter minor and diminished chords a la Radiohead, the weaknesses of the band’s material became pretty apparent. Well, to me, at least. There just didn’t seem to be any real songs there. Or maybe it was just that DoomBird is such a hard act to follow.

And that’s just me bitching, because the crowd clearly ate up Valenzuela’s ululating over four tympanists situated in front of the stage, along a drummer and other musicians stage left. And the dancers, who enacted an adaptation of the Orpheus myth, seemed to move with energy and grace, when I was watching and wasn’t muttering under my breath how at that moment I’d rather be in a fleabag motel over on Seventh Street with a bottle of Thunderbird, a bag of Slim Jim’s and a flip-top hi-fi with a pile of Tom Waits records. Sorry, that’s just me; certain acts take me back to my old days at Pulse magazine, listening to piles of major-label advance CDs and cassettes, many of them by derivative acts who got signed because they were friends in college with whoever it was who’d landed the cush A&R job, or because they sounded a lot like an act that was making money for a competing label: “Ach, this Radiohead is big with the kids and radio is eating them up! Go find me a band that sounds just like them!”

Intermission: Buttered popcorn, medium Coke. Just thought you’d like to know. After that, Drifting Shapes, Ruben Reveles’ trip-hop project. Mostly I dug Reveles’ minimalist grooves and prerecorded narrative snippets, along with the movement Hayes had worked out with her dancers. The vocals reminded me of the enervated rhythm and blues singing from my old pal Michael Ivey’s Basehead group back in the ’90s, which had a just-woke-up, where’s-the-mic feel, much of it done here over short, recurring motifs. To be honest, I was working on my bucket of popcorn, looking around, marveling that Concerts4Charity had sold out a gig featuring dance and four local acts.

Sister Crayon was next. I suppose one could apply the same criticism I just made of Valenzuela’s arena-rock muezzinry to Tara Lopez, but then, Lopez’s voice doesn’t sound so carbon-copy close to the voice of another very popular act. She’s clearly got a nice set of pipes, and the melodies she was singing generally were a nice thing to wrap that supple voice around. To me, her voice was so captivating that I kept looking over at her singing in the dark, rather than at the movement onstage. Which brings up a problem: Yes, you want people to focus on the dance, and you want live musicians out of the way, or in the orchestra pit. But there should be some kind of visual reference point, perhaps. Well, that’s just my opinion.

And here’s another point: A reshuffled order of acts could have improved the presentation. I would have set it like this: Open with Exquisite Corpse and the Orpheus dance, which would have pulled the audience right in, both with Valenzuela’s strong voice and Hayes’ choreographed moves. Follow that with Drifting Shapes. Then, intermission, followed by DoomBird, and then close with Sister Crayon. If there was some time-chewing technical problem between the striking of DoomBird and the setup of Sister Crayon, that’s where you have the emcee — here, Nutting — come out and talk to the audience about the event. Or maybe you bring out someone who can throw some kind of strange and funny story to the crowd.

Anyway, that old saw about how opinions are like assholes — everyone’s got one — maybe applies. Kudos to Nutting, not only for putting this together, but for selling out the Crest on a Friday night with a show of all local music. At a time when local clubs can put on great shows that should be selling out but don’t even come close — like the Red Meat, Whispering Chingaderos and Freebadge Serenaders gig I attended last night at Old Ironsides — it’s remarkable when lots of people do make the effort to come out. I think one reason might be that people will respond to shows when they are framed in the context of an event, and that if you’re promoting a show these days, you have to work extra hard to make sure people get the message to come out, as in flyers and posters everywhere, and other forms of pre-show publicity. You can’t just book three or four excellent bands and expect people to show up.

Promoting shows is hard, occasionally heartbreaking work. Which is one reason I don’t do it. —Jackson Griffith

Full circle, maybe?

Posted in drugs and ackohol in 5/4 time, embarrassing confessionals by Jackson Griffith on 18/09/2010

This coming Tuesday, providing that I don’t go out and get all liquored up and stupid this weekend, I’ll celebrate 18 years of continuous clean and sober time. I guess that means that my sobriety will be old enough to vote, or get drafted to go and fight a war somewhere. Maybe it just means that I’ve spent a long time living without a cocktail. Hell, I don’t know. Sometimes we complicate things too much, when they should remain simple.

What I do know is that I just moved into the Midtown Sacramento neighborhood where I was living when I got sober 18 years ago. In fact, I’m living directly behind the haunted Victorian where I woke up on a busted futon in my third-floor eyrie one Sunday afternoon in September 1992 cradling an empty quart bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, to the tune of an Ornette Coleman album on the stereo (Free Jazz, the one with the Jackson Pollock cover that looked like my brain felt at that moment), with the late Bobby Burns keeping time between drum rolls and cymbal crashes on a set of drums we’d apparently loaded into my beater car and shlepped up the stairs earlier that day, before we got all drunk and demolished my apartment and I passed out.

Walking to the Weatherstone, where I spent a lot of time when I was living in the Victorian that summer while trying to get sober, takes me down the same stretch of H Street that I used to walk when I made my late-night treks to the corner bodega at 20th and H, which I used to call the Loser Magnet Market, for smokes, a fresh bottle and maybe a microwave burrito for some marginal nutrition. I got to where I was making the trip in my bathrobe, and old white terrycloth thing with an Aerosmith logo embroidered in purple on the breast, which I’d gotten as one of the many pieces of record-company swag that flowed my way when I worked as an editor and writer at this music magazine that the late, great Tower Records published, Pulse. I think I was trying to make some kind of Brian Wilson reference by wearing the bathrobe, but can’t remember really. Not sure.

Toward the end of my drinking, I remember one weekend afternoon, stumbling up H after finishing off a bottle of Jägermeister. Something was deeply wrong, and I realized that I was blind above my eyebrows, that is, from that point of vision congruent with my eyebrows and above, it was black. I had a lot of those kinds of days toward the end, and that summer, what had been a long career of just getting fucked up, passing out and then waking up turned into a terrifying ride downhill where I no longer could control my drinking, and I had to put alcohol in me just to settle my nerves, but when I did that, I was off to the races and couldn’t stop.

In my general dishevelment and disarray, I would have to stumble past a fourplex on my next block, unless I wanted to walk a block out of my way and I didn’t have the stamina or sustained focus for that task, so invariably I would run into this pregnant woman, who would go out of her way to accost me on the sidewalk. “You need to stop drinking, Jackson,” she would tell me. “I’m worried about you. You’re turning into a complete wreck.” Other people would later volunteer that they had visions of me pushing a shopping cart around the neighborhood.

That woman gave birth two weeks before I put the bottle down. I still see her around, and her husband, and the baby, who’s grown up to be a fine, strapping lad named Eli Perry. So Linda, and Jerry, thanks for being there on H Street when I’d stumble by so long ago.

Y’lnow, I’ve got a lot to be grateful for these days. Cool September mornings remind me of that. —Jackson Griffith

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 17/09/2010

Always had a thing for the prog as a bong-cradling sprout in the San Joaquin. Y’know, there’s always been a pronounced Teutonic undercurrent in the upper 209 among guitar-noodling whiteboys, which you can really hear all shot throughout Pavement’s oeuvre. Elsewhere around town, it was grotty funk of the seeds’n’stems hornband variety, a la Brass Construction, Con Funk Shun, Tower of Power, Bar Kays, Cold Blood, and especially War and Earth, Wind & Fire. Stocktone was ethnically diverse, which meant that the prevailing entertainment options were funky. No complaints there; I’m glad I heard all that, especially Parliafunkadelicment and some of the other really unhinged brothas in space shit.

But for those of us who roasted and riffed, the import section was where it was at. Grobschnitt, Jane, all that Brain Records stuff like SFF and Novalis, plus Amon Duul II, Can, Gong, Soft Machine, Nektar, Neu, Kayak, even jam bands like the great Man from Wales, plus a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember right now like Hatfield & the North. Oh, and Kluster, plus Brian Eno and, later, Einstürzende Neubauten. And then there was all the mainstream stuff like Genesis, Roxy Music (my particular fave), Tull and loads of other bands. Too bad I no longer have my onetime totemic import collection (alas, it burned up in a fire, and what didn’t burn up got sold behind my back to a certain janky Midtown record store by a certain janky ex-wife).

Anyway, we used to dream of being in weird Euro jam bands before punk rock wiped all that stuff off the map, getting all comic-book character on mushrooms and unleashing three-day guitar solos on the thirsty hordes. Which, now, seems quaint. I mean, plenty of dorky or non-BMOC guys pick up guitars to level the Darwinian playing field with the jocks, so as to better compete with them for fayre mayden loyns, thus ensuring an artsier and non-hammerhead future for at least part of the progeny. The punch line is, have you ever been to a prog show? It’s a total sausagefest, because all the chicks either opt for discos or less-challenging time signatures and more straightforward lyric content.

My big dream, of course, was to put together a band using some umlaut-heavy but total nonsense German alibi, either call the band Jawohl! or maybe Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung. The latter would be really mind-roastingly, chin-scratchingly groovy, because you could put that mouthful on posters and album covers and stuff, and people would be going, what the ngognog ngogn? And then when the inevitable Bauhaus trimdown or streamlining came along, you could reconfigure everything in a huge Helvetica font and shorten the band name to GmbH, which sounds kinda corporate, since it is like German and stuff for “limited liability company” and all.

Too bad I never got round to that one, so tonight here I sit, alone, typing this. —Jackson Griffith

Post and run

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 17/09/2010

I am a whipped dog. Got up behind the eight ball (not the drug eight ball, just the metaphorical one), drove down the 99, and just couldn’t put it together. Felt scrummy. Couldn’t tell my Vespula from my Dolichovespula, if you can grok that. Saw some gossip item about Kwim Lardassian dropping $100K on handbags in France, and didn’t even give half a shit, much less one or two. Supe took one look at me and said: “Why’nch you go back home to bed?”

Drove up the 99. Almost to Galt, realized I left my phone back at the office. Drove back. Got it, drove up to Galt, got gas, realized why I never stop the car in that town or any other one named after an Ayn Rand character, couldn’t figure out how to get on the 99 so drove Twin Cities Road to Bruceville Road, then up that through Elk Grove into South Sac, found my way to Franklin Boulevard and then into Midtown and home. Fell asleep, woke up. Coffee.

Sorry if I can’t be more profound. Some days are like that. —Jackson Griffith

Keep Midtown squinky

Posted in bringing the squinky, hipster gibberish by Jackson Griffith on 16/09/2010

Dunno why I’ve been seeing these “Keep Midtown Janky” stickers around for a while. Buncha hooey, I suspect, from a certain group of locals of whom I choose not to place an any kind of pejorative context, except to say that this word “janky” leaves me going “no thankee.” First, because it’s reportedly some kind of San Francisco snootnosed hipster insult that’s been appropriated by a few fat-tire bike types here as a badge of honor, to which I say that if it came from San Francisco, fuck it. The only two things worth a shit in that burg are the Giants and that John Coltrane church, and, uh, maybe a lot of other things, but not those saditty fucks who turn their noses up at you when you cop to residing in the nine one six.

Second, because I think it’s bass-ackwards. Now, if you’re going to coin a portmanteau of jinky and skanky, then janky doesn’t cut it. Especially when there’s one with the imprimatur of Robert Crumb, who, on the bright orange cover of his Zap Comix No. 1, put it succinctly thus: “Zap Comics are Squinky Comics!!”

I’m not sure why I’m feeling this intense need to keep Midtown squinky; perhaps it’s in response to a recent Midtown Monthly article about “janky” eating in Midtown Sacramento. I mean, I was sitting there reading it in a supposedly janky dining establishment; I was thinking about some ideas I had the week before when I was eating in one of my favorite janky places, the one I told everyone about and can take credit for making it all popular among the right peo- … uh, fuck it, I’ll shut up about that line of jibberjabber before I make any more enemies.

Actually, I was eating at Chita’s Mexican Grill, which is so goddamn janky it’s squinky. I was thinking about squinky, about the places in Midtown that bring the squink. Chita’s is such a place: first, because it’s two doors down from Benny’s, which used to be called “Two Doors Down” when Dolly Parton had a hit by that name and some Bee columnist who used to write his column from the bar there wrote one about what a swell establishment it was before he dropped dead from a heart attack and then newspapers stopped letting their columnists write columns from bars, a big mistake I think, because unedited drunken ramblings are arguably a lot more interesting than what’s getting published in newspapers these days, witness The Bee, but I digress except to say that I would start reading The Bee again if they let a bunch of drunken chimpanzees run rampant with opinion columns and again I digress to mention that the Sacramento Press occasionally serves that function and the UFO and ghostbuster reports can be highly entertaining, but anyway, not only is Benny’s a bit of a “shanky” place these days, if shanky means stabby or a place to get some unwanted impromptu ventilation that will stain your clothes and maybe kill you, but also that between Benny’s and Chita’s is a green-cross joint called “420 Evaluations.” I mean, how frickin’ squinky is that?

Erm, a few definitions by examples. Jim-Denny’s is squinky, perhaps the epitome of squink. Cafe Bernardo is not squinky. Zelda’s is squinky, and Chicago Fire is not squinky. Taki used to be squinky, but whatever it was that replaced it is decidedly not squinky. In fact, no sushi bar can be squinky. Chita’s and La Garnacha are squinky, Centro is not squinky — actually, no Paragary restaurant can be even remotely squinky — and Tres Hermanas is kinda halfway in between. The 524 Club used to be squinky until the redo a few years back, but the satellite joint on Northgate near West El Camino is still squinky as all getout, as are all taco trucks that aren’t run by foodies. As for bars, Round Corner is squinky, and the 20th and K corner with Faces and The Depot and Headhunters and whatever that non-gay (but very ghey) joint is called, like 20-something, on the northwest corner are the quintessence of not squinky. Pine Cove is squinky, and Old Ironsides is mostly squinky, because they’ve been rocking the Pabst flag since before Frank Booth made it the pisswater of choice for hepcats (fuck that “hipster” shit).

See, I’d prefer to live in a squinky world, one with rounded corners that looks like it was drawn by Robert Crumb. I wouldn’t mind meeting a few ladies who look like ol’ Bob drew them, too. And I’d love to have a Robert Crumb-designed automobile. So that’s squinky to me — old Sacramento, back when Crumb lived in Dixon, then Winters, and Justin Green used to go pick him up and drive him around so Crumb could sketch elevations for his comics — Del Paso Boulevard seemed to be a favorite, and that strip between Globe and El Camino should be a regional monument to squink. And we need more squink. There is way too much antisquink in Sacramento, and dunno about you, but I respond to this new antisquink the way Turkish nationals respond to old episodes of The Chipmunks with David Seville: “I do not know what this is, but I feel strongly that it is not good.”

I babble, I babble: We need to keep Midtown squinky, not janky. —Jackson Griffith

Date with IKEA

Posted in embarrassing confessionals, gosh darn it by Jackson Griffith on 15/09/2010

So I moved into this new-for-me place. Actually, it’s a shoebox inside one of those mansard-roofed seventies jobs that I wouldn’t have been caught dead in back when I lived an earlier, cooler life, and insisted on living in old Victorians with wooden floors and high ceilings and atmosphere to spare. But now I don’t give a shit. I just go to work, come home, and need a quiet place to crash and fix my little meals and play some non-stellar guitar. After a couple of years sleeping in strange places, including a year on a massage table two floors above a local dance club, which I’m firmly convinced sits on a darkly haunted block once occupied by an Indian burial ground — and for the first time since before I got together with my ex-wife in 1998 — I have a place I can call my own.

It’s gonna be a while before I’m throwing any dinner parties, however. Gotta get what’s in storage I can use, and then build from there. I’d lost my bed when my marriage went kablooey, and to hell with sleeping in that jinxed thing anyway, so after sleeping on the floor last night, I decided I wanted a bed. Actually, last night I went to IKEA in West Sacramento, but I got overwhelmed pretty quickly and left and went to a Double-A meeting.

This afternoon, after making sure my pal Bobby would be available with his truck (thanks, man), I went into the store. Now, I’m not sure what your position on shopping is; chances are, if you’re one of those hunter-gatherer types, you probably get off on that shit. Me, I panic. About five minutes into walking around upstairs, I had a pretty good mantra going: “I fucking hate shopping I fucking hate shopping I fucking hate shopping I fucking hate shopping I fucking hate shopping I fucking hate shopping.” Damn. I dunno how some people do it. It’s the kind of aggravation that makes me miss being married, or at least having a girlfriend for moral support and stuff.

Anyhoo, after bumping into some toddlers and getting wicked looks from overfed mom and granny, I sucked in my breath and figured out what I wanted. Trouble is, all the product names are in some fucking Scandinavian language, and I forgot my pen and paper, so I tried to memorize the stuff I’d picked. “Let’s see, I’m getting the Ingeborgenfnugen, and what goes with that is the Skůndëhøøndėvœndênslåg, and, fuck, I’ll just grab some goddamn pillows because I’ll be royally fucked if I try to memorize that name, too. I know some people get wood for that Norwegian shit, but why can’t they just name their stuff after guys who used to play for the Giants?

Then I had to go downstairs into the warehouse to find the shit. I made the mistake of getting behind some dried-up schoolteacher type who had to argue with the IKEA guy, who wasn’t quite aces with his English, about garden furniture or the lack of it, and why doesn’t IKEA have any garden furniture like the greeter in the foyer had promised? Meanwhile, I was trying to remember the fucking Danish alphabet soup that would either get me a mattress and platform or, if I fucked up, some godawful home-entertainment wall unit with a built-in armoire and electric wok/fondue combo.

Eventually I got the stuff, paid for it, loaded it into Bobby’s truck, got it home, and then sat down on my bedroom floor for a quick assembly. Uh, wrong. Jeebus farting Chrysler, what a mess. Working from a set of hieroglyphs that looked like something from an old Huckleberry Hound cartoon, I set to work fitting slats into rubber thingees that plugged into the rail thing, and the slats had to be threaded through this nylon cord thing, and some of the slats had to be doubled with these smaller slats first, then threaded through the cord thing, and then both halves of the completed whatchamacallit had to be screwed together, and about midway through my back started spasming and then my whole body started hurting like I’d taken a drunken header off a skateboard into a picnic table of brats who stabbed me with their plastic forks, and, uh, you get the drift.

In the middle of the whole mess, my daughter Ellie called, which was nice catching up with her. She’d had a similar IKEA experience, or at least the assembly nightmare part, recently, so it was kinda fun comparing notes. I guess that, for me, I prefer words to diagrams, but maybe all these companies just got fucking tired of printing instructions in a bunch of different languages, so they settled on really bad cartoons. At least if you’re going to force people to read comics, hire some goddamn illustrators to do them in a way that people can understand them. I know a lot of comics people who could use the work, and if IKEA or whoever doesn’t want to pay money, then maybe they could trade out for swag or something. Ach! My aching back. Sorry about all the cursing.

So now I’m sitting here at the Weatherstone, which is now in my neighborhood, and I’m about done typing, because I’m still sore as hell and I’m crabbing and bitching like a goddamn old person. Gonna go home and turn in early, methinx. Got no internet there yet, so this is the best I can do.

But I had to write something, because I’ve been slacking in that department. Right? —Jackson Griffith